Time to salute black women

March 01, 2018

The mural of Yorta Yorta women Aunty Margaret Tucker and Nanny Nora Charles in the laneway beside Goulburn Valley Water, Shepparton.

With the peaceful, understanding eyes of Aunty Margaret Tucker and Nanny Nora Charles looking over the Shepparton central business district, the time has come to not only respect and recognise our indigenous community, but also focus on the strong women often lost in history.

Women of colour are the most marginalised of groups on our earth, in all countries, which continues to this day.

The marginalisation of black women can never be taken lightly because it is an indicator of an issue that has plagued this group for so long.

There have been many women who have fought against the white supremacist system and who have been erased from historical narratives.

History has taught us that revolutionary movements have been built by the likes of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Steve Biko.

Often ignored from the mainstream conversation is the activism of Winnie Mandela, Albertina Sisulu, Charlotte Maxeke and Sibongile Khumalo, to name a few.

The mainstream conversation often fails to highlight the critical role black women have consistently played during history in the struggle for black freedom, off the back of triple oppression: of race, class and gender.

Aunty Margaret was one of Australia’s first female Aboriginal rights activists and spent her childhood at the Cummeragunja and Monnacullah missions, but was taken from her family.

Nanny Nora worked in midwifery and was renowned across the region for travelling up and down the Murray River to camps and missions to help in the delivery of babies at a time when Aboriginal women were not permitted access to hospitals.

We witness the brilliance of black women constantly: from scholarly critique to unbridled creativity, but not as much as we witness the brutal way we use words to subjugate and spiritually crush them.

Black women deserve our admiration and our protection, and the Greater Shepparton City Council has done a brilliant job in driving that movement locally with the mural.

Our qualm would be that stage two of this mural project has not gained nearly enough traction or public celebration as the first mural of elders Sir Douglas Nicholls and William Cooper, perhaps a symptom of the way our society continues to view women of colour in society.

A second qualm would be that the second mural is situated in a location that is inconspicuous, and you have to look hard to find it.

But the fact that these two women have finally been recognised is hopefully a sign of the times to come.

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